UNESCO has already confirmed authenticity of Buddha’s birthplace as Lumbini of Nepal but disputes and rumours related to the birthplace are on rise as Indian agencies/authorities relate it to India. Such rumours have prevailed since long but recent discoveries by a group of archaeologists at Mayadevi Temple has not only displaced the misinterpretations about the birthplace of Lord Buddha but also has also pushed back the possible dating of Buddha’s birth around 623 BC. This pushes Buddha’s birth date nearly two centuries before than the previous evidence from Pre-Ashokan period of 249 BC.
Government of Nepal, UNESCO, Durham University, and University of Stirling in the United Kingdom and National Geographic Society jointly carried the study since January 2013. The team of experts including Kosh Prasad Acharya, a senior archaeologist of Nepal, Prof. Robin Coningham of Durham University and Prakash Darnal from Department of Archaeology (DoA) found out a wooden temple during excavation process, which became the first artifact to be related with Lord Buddha’s life with suggestion of the new date of Buddha’s birth back to 6th century BC.
The study was done based on a ‘Marker Stone’, found during previous excavation carried from 1992 to 1995 in the Mayadevi Temple at Lumbini. Optically Stimulated Luminance (OSL) method was used for dating purpose for the first time in South Asia in the study.
Along the excavation, a temple in brick was also found which falls in between the built time period of the wooden temple and the Ashokan pillar. With this finding, the hegemony of Gupta Empire or Indian Architecture over Nepalese architectural history has been disposed and it is also likely to drive back the invent of brick technology in Nepalese Architecture, earliest in the Ganges plains i.e. before 1st century BC, which is also suggested in his earlier writings by Prof. Sudarshan Raj Tiwari, a senior architectural historian of Nepal.
Lumbini, as birthplace of Lord Buddha has been scientifically justified by the new discovery of shrine in wooden structure, which might have been a worshipping place for Buddha. Earlier studies also suggest that there had been a prosperous civilization around Kapilbastu area since 10th century BC and the statements by Chinese travellers are also important as the Stupa mentioned in their writings are likely to have been in Panditpur of Nawalparasi district where some artifacts dating back to 6th century were discovered during an excavation.
Further studies will again determine new facts as there are several projects on-going on in the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Lumbini since 1997, Kenzo Tange Master Plan being one and association of UNESCO in intensive research and conservation projects, which has been greatly helping the local government of Nepal in managing the site.
You will soon be able to view the featured documentary of excavation at Mayadevi Temple in National Geographic Society website. Watch the short video from the website below.
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